Sunday, August 17, 2014

The economics of the ice-bucket challenge

Link here

This why Caitlin Dewey, a blogger for the Washington Post who claims that we should praise the challenge for raising so much money, gets it all wrong. The ice bucket challenge has done one good thing, which is raise $3 million for the ALS Association. But it’s also done a really bad thing: take money and attention away from other charities and other causes. That means that, if we want to know whether the ice bucket challenge has been on balance a good thing for the world, we’ve got to assess how effective the ALS Associations is compared with other charities. If 50% of that $3 million would have been donated anyway, and if the ALS association is less than half as effective at turning donations into positive impact on people’s wellbeing than other charities are on average, then the fundraiser would actively be doing harm.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Learning Economics Through Pictures - Law of Demand and Second Amendment

Economic impact of divorce

Blog post is headlined as "The Economic Impact of Divorce".

When I saw the title, I got excited, as I thought it would actually be an examination of the economic impact of divorce (which, to my knowledge, nobody has researched).  I was disappointed, as it wasn't really an economic impact study, but basically a pitch to use the firm's divorce lawyers.

Several years ago at my church, I was in a small group for couples.  One day the leaders had an exercise they asked all of the couples to go through.  One was to examine how expensive it would be to get divorced. There are financial impacts on the couple, of course, but I'm not certain there are broader economy-wide impacts.  (At least not immediately, here's research on children.)

Here are a couple articles on the costs of divorce to the couple:

Link 1

Link 2

Friday, August 15, 2014

Learning economics through pictures - US medical spending

Picture 1 source here

The conventional story is that the US was horrendously inefficient, much more so than other countries.  While that may be true, these graphs make it appear that it's more likely that we spend far more on elderly care than other countries.  For those under age 60, we don't seem much more inefficient than other countries.  These graphs make it appear that it is not inefficiency, but choices on how much to spend on elder-care, that make our per-capita health care expenses more than other countries.  (Note - these graphs are from pre-Obamacare data.)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Liberty and Economic Freedom Series at Susquehanna University

I am pleased to announce three great speakers are coming to Susquehanna University during the 2014-2015 academic year.  All three will are part of our speaker series on liberty and economic freedom.

The three speakers complement each other nicely.  One speaker will discuss national issues, one will discuss issues specific to the state of Pennsylvania, and one will discuss issues related to food and agriculture.

Our three speakers are:

Jayson Lusk :             Wednesday, October 22nd
David R. Henderson:  Wednesday, January 21st
Nate Benefield:           Monday, April 13th

Here's some information on our speakers:

Jayson Lusk. Regents Professor and Willard Sparks Endowed Chair in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Oklahoma State University.  
Jayson will be talking about issues related to food, the "food police", and freedom.  Here's (an abridged version of) his autobiography:

I currently serve as Regents Professor and Willard Sparks Endowed Chair in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Oklahoma State University and also serve as the Samuel Roberts Noble Distinguished Fellow at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. After earning a B.S. in Food Technology from Texas Tech University in 1997, I received a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from Kansas State University in 2000.
I’ve been listed as one of the most prolific and cited food and agricultural economists of the past decade in a variety of outlets including here, here, here, and here, won numerous research awards, given lectures at over 30 universities in the US and abroad, published editorials in outlets such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal,,,, and the Huffington Post, and have made TV appearances on Fox and Friends, the John Stossel Show, and Wall Street Journal Live, among others.

In 2007, I co-authored a book on a consumer research method with Jason Shogren published by Cambridge University Press and co-authored an undergraduate textbook on agricultural marketing and price analysis with Bailey Norwood published by Prentice-Hall. In 2011, I released a book co-authored with Norwood on the economics of farm animal welfare published by Oxford University Press and also co-edited the Oxford Handbook on the Economics of Food Consumption and Policy. My most recent book, The Food Police: A Well-Fed Manifesto about the Politics of Your Plate, was published by Crown Forum in 2013.

David R. Henderson.   Research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, and an associate professor of economics at the Graduate School of Business and Public Policy, Naval Postgraduate School, in Monterey, California.

David will be discussing issues related to the national economy, including the benefits or capitalism and economic freedom.  Here's an abridged version of his autobiography:

I’m the editor of The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics (Liberty Fund, 2008). It is now on the web at: It has been translated into Russian and Arabic. My book, The Joy of Freedom: An Economist’s Odyssey, was published by Financial Times Prentice Hall in the fall of 2001, and has been translated into Chinese. I also wrote, with my former student, Charles L. Hooper, Making Great Decisions in Business and Life (Chicago Park Press, 2006). It has been translated into Japanese and Korean.
I’ve written about 200 articles for such popular publications as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Barron's, Fortune, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Public Interest, National Review, Red Herring, and Reason. I’ve testified before the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Armed Services Committee, and the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources. I’ve also appeared on C-SPAN, CNN, the Jim Lehrer Newshour, the O’Reilly Factor, and the John Stossel show, and I’ve done radio interviews with NPR, the BBC, KQED-FM and many regional radio stations.

Nathan Benefield.  Vice President of Policy Analysis for the Commonwealth Foundation.

Nate has researched and written on public policy issues including taxes, government spending, education reform, transportation funding, health care policy, and economic development. Nate's work has been featured in the Philadelphia InquirerPittsburgh Post-GazettePittsburgh Tribune-ReviewPatriot News, and Allentown Morning Call amongst others.  Nate frequently provides testimony to the Pennsylvania House and Senate and often lends his policy expertise to WHP 580 and KDKA radio.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

AARP's worst states to retire ...

Link here

The story is a couple years old, but I just ran into it.  (I'm not a frequent reader at

The list and reasons each state made the list:

1) Illinois Poor fiscal health
2) CaliforniaExpensive, and its finances are in disarray
3) New York Very high taxes, including property taxes
4) Rhode IslandWorst-off state in the Northeast from a financial viewpoint; high taxes
5) New Jersey Highest property taxes in the United States; has pension funding issues
6) OhioHigh unemployment and cold winters
7) WisconsinHigh property taxes and frigid weather
8) MassachusettsHigh cost of living and high property taxes
9) ConnecticutTaxes Social Security and has high property taxes
10) Nevada Foreclosure capital of the world

Notice anything about those states?  Let me change the right hand column to the percent of the vote Obama received in 2012 ...

1) Illinois 57% voted for Obama
2) California59% voted for Obama
3) New York 63% voted for Obama
4) Rhode Island63% voted for Obama
5) New Jersey 58% voted for Obama
6) Ohio50% voted for Obama
7) Wisconsin53% voted for Obama
8) Massachusetts61% voted for Obama
9) Connecticut58% voted for Obama
10) Nevada 52% voted for Obama